Great American Beer Fest: Tips to Enjoying It, Instead of Puking

Beer in your futureA long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, beer was just beer to me. It’s heartbreaking…I know.

My first GABF was 11 years ago. I did what many people do: get trashed and not make it to even¬†half the breweries. More than likely, I visited only a quarter of them. I lacked the wisdom and taste buds to be discerning. Don’t get me wrong, I had a shit ton of fun until I found myself releasing the demons of that fast and furious 4 hour session onto 14th Street and at a porcelain throne in a bar.

Things change.

Long past are those days. Now, I have a game plan when I go in. So for all you newbies, I’m sharing this in case your only plan is to try some beers.

1. Choose ahead. Whether it’s a style of beer, a region, specific breweries, or medal winners, be specific in what you’re going to drink. It’s a HUGE amount of beers and even to someone like me, it’s still overwhelming and extremely tempting to jump off course.

2. Use your will power. Stick to your choice because once you jump off the wagon, it’s hard to get back on.

3. Don’t feel obligated to drink everything you try. For many years, even with sticking to my chosen beer path, I’d get tanked because I drank every bit that was poured, whether it was bleah or awesome. If it doesn’t impress me, I dump it because I have long list to get to and I’d rather save my wits and taste buds for awesomeness. Sometimes, I even spit.

4. Go with friends that understand or alone. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for a friend in a long line at a brewery that you’re not tasting at. This can contribute to getting off your beer course. Going with peeps that are okay with not seeing you for the next 4 hours because your beer interests vary is important. Or find beer buddies that have the same plan as you. Personally, I’m a fan of going alone. Let’s be serious, beer people are friendly and if you go alone, you’re not really alone. You’re with the best extended family in the world.

5. Bring beer snacks. Nuts, pretzels, potato chips…whatever your preferred drinking snack is, bring it. This will help with not getting tanked. It also helps in not wasting time standing in line to get a snack. As dorky as they are, I appreciate the wisdom of pretzel necklaces. It also doubles as a good way to make friends or to hit on beer girls. You’ve had a lot of beers and you’re peckish? Would you like a pretzel?

6. Get tickets for more than one session. If you have the funds and time, it’s totally worth it. There’s a lot to do besides tasting beer.

7. Map your game plan in advance. The floor map, events, and breweries are on GABF’s website already. The beer list comes out on Wednesday, Oct 1st. Which means you can have your tasting experience mapped out and ready to go before you step into the gates of heaven. Of course being flexible in the plan is important: beers get tapped out, there’s longer lines than expected, you get distracted by the really cute guy/girl you offered a pretzel to, people keep asking to take photos with you because your outfit is cool… distractions happen. If you know where you want to go and where that booth is, you don’t have to waste time trying to find it.

This year, I won’t be attending GABF. Yes, I am super sad but sometimes there are more important things in life (hard to believe, I know). BUT I will be attending some of the fun extracurricular activities, like the Great Avery Boulder Fest at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.

Have a great 2014 GABF and I’ll be back for 2015!!

P.S. Cut a rug for me at the Silent Disco!!

Bittersweet Changes

October holds the holiday Halloween which most Americans, especially little kids, associate with trick or treating, candy, pranks, and the good old horror movie. Halloween, also known as Samhain (said like sow-en), is also know as a time where the veil between the worlds is thinnest. If you want to get connected to a loved one that has passed on, this is your holiday to get the best reception over the inter-dimensional cell phone waves. I find that this has become a time where I start to “lose” people. Friends move or tuck themselves in for winter. Summer flings suddenly fall away with the leaves on trees. Fair weather acquaintances go back to driving cars instead of riding their bikes. Everything and everyone slows down.

And if you don’t have a summer crush secured as your winter cuddle buddy, then it’s going to be a very chilly, lonely winter. At least according to one of my good friends…but he just left for San Francisco.

Which is part of my reason for writing today. Bittersweet changes. Summer is definitely gone as of today in Colorado. Denver had its first snow of the year. Mr. Ireland has headed off to the west coast on a new adventure of an awesome new job. I’ve been dealing with another injury that has taken me away from my work and looking at what I can do for a living until I’m healed, but also looking towards the future and where I need to go with my career instead of where I want to go.

Then there’s the loved ones that have passed: my grandmother, Jose, uncle Joe, even Augie (once upon a time my Maltese). I feel fortunate that death has left my loved ones alone for so long, but that won’t last forever. With ever year, I feel the press of time more and more and how it wears on us all.

Then my mind wanders to all the lost loves and friends. I hope they are happy and healthy in their lives. Sometimes I wish I could express to them that I’m sorry for whatever fucked up thing happened between us. Or even just the “I’m sorry we lost each other in the shuffle of life”. Sometimes, it’s better to let it go instead of rehashing what you can’t fix or apologize for.

For me, this month is a time of remembering loss and doing a little healthy grieving. Whether it’s a deceased loved one, a friend that has moved far away, or a lover that has fallen out of love: I still love you all. You have taught me lessons and given me love that has shaped who I am today. I am grateful for it all, even though at moments the lesson was so painful.

On Samhain, the Sun God dies and we all wait for his rebirth on the Winter Solstice. We wait for the warmth of spring sunshine on our skin. We hold on to the memory of summer to give us hope through cold winter nights. Just like we hold onto the memory of loved ones, in hope that we might see them again.

Love unconditionally…

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Betasso Preserve

What do you mean, I was supposed to bring gear with me?

What do you mean, I was supposed to bring gear with me?

“Would you mind filling out a quick survey about the trail?”

“Ummm…sure. You are kind of blocking our way to the steps, so why not.”

That was at the end of my first time mountain biking on Sunday. I never thought I’d go mountain biking just because I get concerned about getting damaged. In my line of work, a damaged body potentially means no working for months.

Beyond my better judgement on Sunday, I let my friend take me out on what he said was an easy trail. Easy…right. Going up mountains is never easy especially on a bicycle. Not just any bicycle, but my old, broken down, lacking tread, dumpster diving edition Specialized that is more of a commuter bike than anything else. Top that with flip flops and a skirt and we have the classic Sassy Beer Gypsy minimalist “I don’t need no fancy gear” activity style.

Within 5 minutes on the trail, I get the same comment twice “Nice shoes…”

My thought, “Damn. I should have gotten a pedicure before heading to Boulder this weekend.” If I’m going to potentially tear off a toenail on a rock, I’d like it to at least look pretty while it’s covered in blood. Priorities.

Betasso Preserve can be reached by three different entry points. We choose (by accident) the entry on Fourmile Canyon Drive. Apparently Parks and Recs made ¬†this new entry point about a year or so ago and named it the Fourmile Link (it’s only .8 miles long). To find the start of the link, you’ll see a little parking area on the road, then take a serious hairpin turn in the road, then there will be another little parking area (you can’t park in it, read the signs) where you’ll see the sign and the stairs that take you down. We made the entertaining journey up the mountain via the Benjamin Loop trail. Did I reach the top? Dear goodness, no. This gypsy is used to cruising the flats of Denver at 5280 not the 6200-6600 of the preserve. I did give it a pretty good run considering my apparel and the massive amount of huffing and puffing my body needed to get oxygen in.

On the overall, the trail actually was pretty easy. It’s well maintained and besides the occasional small rock formation, the trail itself was pretty level and nicely packed. It’s not very wide which means if you stop, you’re either stepping up the mountain or down the mountain to get out of the way (at least the part we did). There are trees right next to the trail which at times felt like they were only as far apart as the width of my bike.

Let me say, it was beautiful. It’s a multi-use trail which means that you should strap on your hiking flip flops and go for a walk. I’m definitely looking forward to doing it again.

Maybe with better shoes next time….

Yeah…there’s a lot more terrain for me to cover.